Travis Pastrana has been an integral part of the EVS family since his early years as a young, up-and-coming motocross racer with a depth of talent unseen until that point in history. How did the relationship between EVS Sports and Travis Pastrana begin? And how did it turn into one of the longest-running athlete-sponsor relationships in the sport? Spanning some 20+ years, that along the way has become a PSA of sorts about the importance of wearing protective equipment. The following brief history tells the story of how the relationship began and how it continues to flourish today.
It all began when Todd Lentz met Gary Bailey at Loretta Lynn's Ranch in the mid-1990s. At the time, EVS was a sponsor of Bailey's Motocross Schools, and Lentz often attended as an opportunity to educate riders about knee protection and other injury prevention measures. Lentz and Bailey had been working together for some time developing protective products with Bailey's input, going so far as to create a 'ProF Series' knee pad named after Bailey's nickname 'The Professor,' as a nod to his profession as a riding instructor.
Around this same period, Robert and Debbie Pastrana approached Gary Bailey about coaching their son Travis. After a few lessons, Bailey noticed the young Pastrana gripped the tank on his motorcycle so tightly that he would bruise the inside of his knees. Soon after, Bailey rang up his buddy Todd Lentz and asked if EVS would send a set of knee pads to an upcoming young racer he'd been working with, and Lentz agreed. That racer was 13-year-old Travis Pastrana and marked the beginning of one of the longest-standing athlete-brand relationships in motocross.
At first, EVS supported Pastrana through Gary Bailey and his riding schools, but Lentz became fast friends with the Pastrana family, and the relationship blossomed. Soon after, Travis and his dad began asking for help from Lentz and EVS, creating one-off products for special circumstances. Such as, when Travis was struggling with hydration issues, the EVS team retrofitted a race collar with a drink system bladder and bite valve to help keep him hydrated in hot and humid conditions.
At age 16, Travis broke his foot at the X Games but was afraid to tell Roger Decoster and Suzuki until after he won the Outdoor Motocross Championship and Motocross of Nations later that year. So EVS made Travis a custom ankle and foot insole that was small enough to go in his boot.
In 2004 when Travis broke his wrist before the Supercross season, EVS made him custom wrist braces. Then in 2006, before freestyle "flip levers" had been perfected, Travis' neighbor welded a piece of metal to the top of each brake and clutch lever. Because of this, he needed his wrist braces to include a section of hard plastic sewn into them at the spot where they contacted his homemade flip levers. Eventually, Travis would get his wrist fused, but before then, the braces helped get him a few more years of elite performance out of his wrists.
Another time, EVS made Travis a custom neoprene MP3 player holder to help him keep his mind focused during long training motos. Then there was the time he attempted his first double backflip at X Games, and EVS made him custom upper and lower body protective undergarments, which he later used during his Nitro Circus days, where he often did one-off stunts. In each instance, Travis would call Todd Lentz and say, "here's what I'm looking for. Can EVS make that?"
These are a few of the many collaborations between Travis Pastrana and EVS through the years. Today, the company still accommodates the unique product needs of one of the most incredible action sports athletes of all time. EVS was there in 1999 when he launched his bike into the San Francisco bay at the X Games and has had his back since. Through ups, downs, and many wild rides and moments through the years, the friendship between EVS Sports and Travis Pastrana has remained constant.
At 38 years old, Travis continues to push the limits of possibility—whether on two wheels or four—and EVS is honored to continue its relationship with Travis as a friend and supporter. If Travis dreams it up, EVS goes out of its way to create a product to help him achieve his goals. At the same time, EVS has access to Pastrana's accumulated knowledge when designing and improving its protective products.
One example is the current version of the TP199 Kneepad, which is the culmination of nearly two decades of learning, testing, and fitting. The result is the next-level knee pad of today with its unparalleled fit, function, and protection. When the project began, Travis' tib-fib, femur, and knees were so misaligned he couldn't wear traditional knee braces. So EVS created a hybrid knee pad with compression sleeves for Travis that has evolved over many years and multiple iterations to become the TP199 Knee Pad of today.
Two decades, 25 years, and a laundry list of history-making moments and products later, the relationship between Travis Pastrana and EVS Sports remains strong. Lentz still recalls like it was yesterday when the relationship between Travis Pastrana and EVS Sports began in the late 1990s over pizza and a snow cone that led to a handshake deal that still stands. What started as a relationship between racer and sponsor has since become one of the longest-standing friendships in motocross.